My Mum’s Scotch Broth

Hello my lovelies, I hope you’re having a wonderful and relaxing Sunday.

This morning I have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, working on a couple of healthy lunch ideas that you can take to work with you. I’ll be posting one on Thursday and another next Sunday so make sure to check back then. This afternoon I’ll be working on some papers that I am writing that are a tad overdue… In the words of a very wise woman “Boo Dat!”. Not how I’d ideally spend my Sunday afternoon, but the sooner I get them finished the sooner I can reclaim my weekends. First though…a little more procrastination!

Today I want to share with you a recipe for a classic Scottish winter staple: Scotch Broth. This soup was a favourite of my Grandpa’s and I remember my mum always made it as the starter to our Christmas meal at his request. To him, there was no other acceptable way to start Christmas dinner and thus our family was divided into the soup people and the prawn cocktail people at Christmas. My brother and I were definitely in the former category (this is also one of his favs) despite me not being much of a soup person; my mum will tell you how I more or less refused to eat soup that has ‘lumps’ in it until recently. I’m petty much over that now (although lumps in yoghurts and bits in orange juice will never be appropriate, ever) and I thought I’d have a go at making this hearty, filling, meal.

This is essentially my mum’s recipe that I have made a few minor alterations to. Traditionally this soup has some kind of animal in it so that’s the biggest difference here, but I also cut back a bit on the legumes, and shifted the focus onto the veggies which are ABUNDANT! I’d go as far as to say that this is less of a soup at this point and more of a stew. Anyway, semantics. The point is, it’s hearty and filling without being heavy. It’s also really easy to make.

Traditionally Scotch Broth has barley in it which contains gluten. Barley has many virtues, but if you suffer from gluten sensitivities or allergies then you could substitute the barley for brown rice and just adjust the cooking time slightly for a gluten-free option.

Scotch Broth and Bread

My take on my Mum’s classic Scotch Broth


Notes on Nutrition


The humble carrot contains the compound pectin, a complex carbohydrate that is used as a thickening agent (often added to jam) and acts as a soluble fibre. But what’s also really cool about pectin is that it can help chelate and remove heavy metals from the body and acts as a detoxifier (apples are another good source of pectin). As you probably know, carrots are really high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin A in plant foods. However, what you may not know is that lightly cooking/steaming carrots has been shown to actually help improve the bioavailability of carotenoids (like beta-carotene), probably by slightly breaking down the tough plant cell wall. But be careful, as carotenoids are very susceptible to light and heat, so if you over-cook, you run the risk of destroying all of this nutrient. I aim to keep my cooked vegetables slightly ‘al dente’, no mushy veggies here!

Barley is slightly sweet tasting and is good for your stomach and digestion (another prebiotic food that stimulates growth of the colonic bacteria, the ones who keep our immune system healthy). In addition to the split peas and lentils used here, barley is also a fantastic source of plant-based protein. Plant proteins are thought to be more easily digested than animal proteins, and studies have shown that plant proteins are associated with a lower incidence of chronic disease as compared to animal proteins.

Scotch Broth

This makes a LOT of soup, so you may want to cut the recipe in half if it’s only for a few people. You can also portion and freeze it. Like most things it tastes even better the next day.

2 Stalks celery, chopped

1 red onion, minced

2 Leeks, sliced

4 oz dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in warm water (enough to cover mushrooms)

2 Large Carrots, finely chopped

1 small Neep (Rutabaga/Swede), finely chopped

1 Small White Turnip, finely chopped

1/3 c. Wholegrain Barley

1/3. c. Red Lentils

1/3 c. Split Green Peas

Salt, to taste

White Pepper, lots

Fresh parsley


The aromatics: Celery, Onions, and Leek

Begin by thoroughly rinsing the barley, lentils, and peas (but don’t mix them together). If you don’t wash them well enough then you’ll get a frothy layer on the top of your soup, and that’s no use. In a large soup pot bring around three cups of lightly salted water to the boil and add the barley. It takes the longest to cook, around an hour or so. After 20 minutes, add the green peas and let them cook with the barley for a further 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, lightly sautée the celery, onions and leek in a small amount of water (around ¼ c.) until slightly softened and the onions turn transparent. Don’t let them burn.

Reconstitute the dried mushrooms in hot water (enough water to cover the mushrooms completely) Around 1.5-2 c. Allow to soak for around 30 minutes.

Root Veggies

Root Veggies: Carrot, Rutabaga (Swede), and Turnip

After around 50 minutes, add the celery mixture, mushroom brother (you can throw the mushrooms in there too if you like), vegetables, and lentils to the barley and peas and bring to the boil. If needed, you can add water or vegetable broth to make sure everything is covered in liquid. Allow to simmer for another 20-30 mins, making sure to stir when needed. You can also add dried mixed herbs here for a little boost of flavour if that’s your thing, or just leave it as it is.

Broth Mix

Broth Mix: Red Lentils, Barley, and Split Peas


Season with salt and white pepper, and a little fresh parsley. Serve piping hot with some crusty wholemeal bread or oatcakes. So easy and so tasty! Perfect for this chilly Ithaca winter’s day.


Scotch Broth in Bowl

Lovely hot bowl of soup


Scotch Broth

Simple yet super tasty!


What tasty, healthy dishes are you cooking up this Sunday afternoon?

I also wanted to mention some other blogs that you might be interested in. My good friend from Grad School, Carly started a really interesting blog called Dietitian Dash about her commitment to healthy eating and fitness. Her journey to becoming a distance runner is especially inspiring and I recommend you take a look and ‘like’ her Facebook page. Also, one of my oldest friends, Ashley, started a hilarious blog, Diary of a First Timer, so make sure to take a minute to look it that if you fancy a laugh! I have aslo submitted this recipe to the Healthy Vegan Friday challenge, check it out!

Finally, just a reminder that if you don’t already, you can follow Peaches and Greens on Facebook. This is the best way to follow the posts (I have a Twitter account too but I’m still learning!) and various other interesting things that might be interesting in between blog posts.

Ok, this is really the last thing. I am working on some lunch/salad ideas and a recipe for a ‘energy/snack bar’. But if there are things you’d like to see on the blog, or anything you wanted more information on then please drop me a line in the comments section. I’d really value hearing back from the readers who aren’t my immediate family and best friends :) (although their support is very much appreciated <3)

Be well,